The day is coming that American Airlines will roll out revenue-based awards – however, their current Web Specials that look a lot like revenue-awards are something that I can get behind!
The New American Airlines Web Special Awards Have Great Value!
The soon-to-be “old” system of pricing for domestic awards on US airlines has been 12,500 miles for a one-way award anywhere in the continental US. That price used to hold true whether the cost of the ticket in cash would be $500 or $75.
However, over the last year or so, US airlines have begun making moves to a more revenue-based model (like Southwest and JetBlue) that can actually work really well for economy awards. The bad part is it will kill the value we get from business class awards.
Cheap Cash Tickets vs Award Tickets – They Are Not Equal
American Airlines had begun trialing Economy Web Special awards not long again (last year)but I have begun noticing them on more and more routes only recently. For a while, I had been looking for awards on certain routes that I need for next month and they were at 12,500 or about $200 or more. The problem with American Airlines and their cash vs miles comparison is that the cheapest cash price is not equal to the mileage ticket. The mileage ticket is like a regular “main cabin” ticket that gives the regular “benefits” of flying in economy. The cheapest cash price, on the other hand, is for basic economy that strips some of what we are used to with an economy ticket (like picking seats, for example).
Note: AA Economy Web Special tickets do not allow changes – so do keep that in mind.
The AA Web Special Awards Offer Great Value
However, over the last week or so, these AA Web Special awards began showing up on the routes I had been searching – and they were really good! Take for instance, this one:
If we put a value on those AA miles, that gives a direct value of 2.3 cents per mile. For a domestic economy ticket, that is really good!
And this was not an isolated find! I am booking AA flights between many different city pairs and have been consistently finding mileage values between 1.7 and 2.5 cents per mile. That is really not bad at all!
This is one I did not include above because it is definitely more of an anomaly than what you would expect to find. I have been finding that some tickets are coming up under award searches but are not available for cash purchase. To force a cash purchase, it must be searched for using either Google Flights or some OTA. But, this particular flight showed up with a staggering 12.7 cents per mile! You would be very hard pressed to get that kind of value on international business class awards with AA miles!
There are still the awards that can be booked by credit cardmembers calling in but these Economy Web Special awards have really intrigued me! Thanks to their rollout on routes that I had been watching, I am able to book 3 separate itineraries for just 17,000 miles total when they would have cost 37,500 miles just a couple of weeks ago.
So, definitely give the AA website or app some looks for award tickets! These Economy Web Special awards can be some great finds – as long as you can deal with the no-changing-flights policy. It is almost like the old days of the 4,500 Avios awards on AA (almost, not quite – I used to get upgraded on those!).
Yes, the AA move to revenue-based award tickets is going to really stink for international premium class awards, but I could definitely get behind values like this in economy!
What are some of the values and city pairs you have found with Economy Web Special awards?